Americans like the unforgettable outdoor flavor that cooking over hot coals adds to juicy beef, and with hot weather days of summer fast approaching, now is the perfect time to become acquainted with cooking over an outdoor flame.
Any beef that cooks indoors by dry heat can cook on the outdoor grill. Even less tender cuts of high quality can cook successfully on the grill. This includes beef cuts like chuck steak or boneless chuck roasts, top round steak or boneless top round roasts, boneless rump roasts and tip roasts.
Today's cooks also like the fast and hassle-free meal preparation that cooking on the grill offers. Steak, kebabs and hamburgers take just minutes to cook on the grill and there are no pots and pans to wash later. Also, novices to outdoor cooking find it's easy, as well as fun, to cook large beef cuts such as roasts, brisket and whole slabs of beef ribs.
But before sampling these mouthwatering beef entrees, the first-time outdoor chef must master the preparation and regulation of the fire. A moderate temperature is generally recommended for cooking beef.
First, place briquettes in the firebox of the grill (line with foil for easy clean-up, if desired) pyramid-style, starting about 20 to 30 minutes before cooking begins. Generally, the Barbecue Industry Assn. recommends using about three pounds of briquettes per fire, depending upon the size of the grill and the amount of meat and other food to be cooked.
To ignite the briquettes, unless you're using instant-lighting charcoal, use either a liquid or electric starter. Use about two ounces of fluid per pound of briquettes, wait about two minutes, then light. To use the electric starter, insert into the coals about eight minutes, then unplug and remove.
The fire is ready when the coals are covered with a gray ash and glowing in the center. At this point, spread the coals in a single layer with tongs for direct cooking of steaks, burgers or other quick-cooking food. To lower the cooking temperature, spread coals farther apart or raise the grill, if possible. To make the fire hotter, move the coals closer together and tap off the ash. If slower, indirect cooking for roasts and other slow-cooked food is desired, arrange the coals on either side of the drip pan. It's also handy to use a spritzer bottle to sprinkle coals in case of flare-ups.
To check the temperature of the coals, cautiously hold the palm of your hand about four inches from the coals. Count the number of seconds you can hold your hand in that position before the heat forces you to pull it away. Temperature is hot at two seconds, medium-hot at three seconds, medium at four seconds, low at five seconds, very low at six or seven seconds.
Aromatic wood chunks are a popular addition to charcoal fires. The most compatible wood flavors with beef are mesquite, oak, hickory, cherry and grapevine. When the coals are hot, place wood chunks on top of briquettes and wait about five minutes for the smoke to start developing before cooking.
Kebabs Make Easy Entree
An easy entree for first-time barbecue chefs is Beef and Vegetable Kebabs. One skewer will hold an entire meal of beef and vegetables. Make the kebabs with tasty cubes of sirloin steak, separated with pieces of green peppers and potatoes. A crisp tossed salad and grill-warmed loaf of crusty bread complete the meal.
The use of marinade will help transform beef short ribs into mouthwatering Beer-Basted Rib Steaks. The steaks can be easily cut from the meaty short rib at home, then marinated about six to eight hours to tenderize these less-tender cuts. When ready for the grill, they take only 20 minutes to cook. Brush occasionally with additional sauce for added flavor.
Beef liver, long known for its great nutritional value, is usually at its best when cooked with the traditional accompaniments of bacon and onions. But did you know that the barbecue provides a terrific method of cooking a whole liver to perfection? Purchase the liver in one large piece, such as the two-pound piece suggested in this Barbecued Beef Liver recipe. Marinate in red wine and beef broth that has been simmered with parsley, oregano and thyme. Check the liver after cooking for 10 minutes on each side. Overcooking will toughen the liver.
Three marinated cuts of beef round out the selection. At your next cookout serve some Sherried London Broil, Country-Style Flank Steak or Chili Chuck.
BEEF AND VEGETABLE KEBABS
1 (2 1/2-pound) beef sirloin steak, cut 1 inch thick
4 medium potatoes
2 medium green peppers, cut into 24 pieces
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Trim fat from steak and remove bone. Cut into 16 (1-inch) pieces.
Cut potatoes into quarters but do not peel. Cook in 2 inches boiling water in covered saucepan 15 to 20 minutes.